The Importance of Identifying All the Defendants in an Ohio Truck Accident Case

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If you or someone you care about was catastrophically injured in a trucking accident, your life has probably been turned upside. You may be looking for answers and want to hold the driver who caused the accident responsible.

Crashes involving semi-trucks, tractor trailers, and other large commercial vehicles often cause catastrophic injuries, including broken bones, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, loss of sight or hearing, facial disfiguration, nerve damage, severe burns, lacerations, crush injuries, and even wrongful death.

What many people don’t realize is that truck accident cases are significantly more complex than a common car crash. Having an experienced Ohio trucking accident injury lawyer on your side can help you identify not just the truck driver, but also the parent company that owns the tractor-trailer, the broker who arranged the transportation logistics, and other parties that may have had a role in causing the crash.

“Lone-Wolf” Truck Driver or Corporate Employee?

When the crash first occurs, you may believe that the driver of the tractor-trailer was a “lone wolf” - a single owner-operator driving a truck with minimum insurance limits.

In reality, the truck driver may have a long history of driving for a particular shipping company, and may even have been suspended by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for various safety violations such as speeding, hours of service violations, or drug use.

A key question your attorney should ask is “How did the driver get this load?”

A tractor-trailer driver was hired by someone, and has a contract to haul the load. Your lawyer can and should follow the money to determine who hired the driver, who was involved in loading the cargo, and the expectations set forth in the contract between the shipper and the driver. Answers to these questions will often lead to other parties who were responsible for the load and who may share in the responsibility for the tragic injury that was caused.

Holding Brokers Responsible for Truck Crashes

Brokers, who arrange the contract with the driver, can be held responsible for the actions of the trucking company they hired, especially if the broker retains oversight over any aspect of the work being performed.

Many brokers will claim that the truck driver was operating as an independent contractor; however, the broker can be held liable for hiring a trucking company with a poor safety record, or for failing to check the safety record of the shipping company they hire. In some cases, the “broker” is not actually a broker but instead is acting as a motor carrier by arranging the transportation of shipment.

Holding Shippers Liable

The shipping company may also be liable for the negligence of the driver if they failed to check the trucking company’s licensing, registration, insurance coverage, and safety record, or if the shipping company was involved in loading or improperly securing the cargo.

Shipping companies and their insurance companies want you to focus on the truck driver, and want you to believe that the driver has low insurance limits so you settle your case quickly, believing you obtained the limits of the drivers insurance policy, when in fact there are other players involved who can and should be held responsible.

A Lawyer Can Find the Responsible Parties and Hold Them Accountable

Why does this matter to you? Because some or all of the different entities involved in shipping cargo may have contributed to unsafe conditions that ultimately caused the crash. This could be through policies that encourage drivers to violate hours of service regulations, improper loading or securing of cargo, or hiring a trucking company that has a poor safety record.

Finding the responsible parties is important because all of them should be held responsible, and should contribute to compensating you and your family for the catastrophic injuries that were sustained, and for the life-changing events that occurred.

Robenalt Law Protects Your Family’s Financial Well-being

At Robenalt Law, our experienced truck accident attorneys will find the responsible parties and hold them accountable for the harm they caused. We will help protect your family’s financial future by fighting for the compensation that you need and deserve.

After a truck accident, time is of the essence. First, focus on obtaining the medical care that you need. Then, find an experienced Ohio trucking accident attorney to fight for your rights, and for the compensation that your family will need to protect your financial future.

Contact an experienced Ohio truck accident attorney today by calling 216-233-7535, email trobenalt@robenaltlaw.com, or complete our online form.

Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing trucking companies at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 20 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured by negligent trucking companies, brokers, shippers and safety consultants.

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